Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Ohio Bobcats
Theunissen Stadium-Mt. Pleasant, MI: Madness. Sheer Madness. Attending a baseball game in Michigan in March, one would have to be classified as mad, or crazy, or whatever. The weather actually wasn’t that bad, however, and dealing with a personal loss, my dad and I decided to use baseball as therapy. This was the Chips home opener, so there was a decent crowd on hand (until the sun disappeared, anyway).
The game itself was a rough one for the Chips. Sophomore Nick Deeg took the loss one the mound, but two unearned runs didn’t help his cause. CMU had a couple other defensive lapses that could have been errors, also, so a tough day for the left-hander. Five times during the game the Chippewas had at least two runners in scoring position, and stranded 13 total for the game. Nick Regnier and Alex Borglin had two hits and an RBI each to lead CMU offensively. Logan Regnier and Joe Houlihan each legged out doubles, and freshman Zach McKinstry added a hit and an RBI.
The Chippewas bounced back to beat Ohio the nest two games, but we were left with the lone loss in the series. Still a fun day, and getting to a ballgame really helped take our minds off things for a little while. We’ll try to see the Chips play again this season for sure. Final Score: Chippewas 4, Bobcats 6.
Team Maroon vs. Team Gold
Theunissen Stadium-Mount Pleasant, MI: We’ve had so much rain here in Michigan this past month, we were very lucky that we caught a break last weekend, and actually enjoyed some fall baseball. The Central Michigan University Chippewas play a split-squad Fall World Series, and we were able to see game five. It was a beautiful day, and with the sun shining down, it seemed a lot warmer than the 65 degree temperature. We usually go to football games this time of year, but the Chips were out of town, and I prefer baseball, anyway.
We each picked teams, with Lily and I taking Team Gold (white uniforms), and Brian and my Dad siding with Team Maroon. Good choice for us, as Gold put three runs across in the first inning. Maroon pitcher Adam Aldred gave up four runs and struck out five in four plus innings. On the other side, Gordon Grasjean was great on the hill, and no-hit the Maroon squad through five innings. He ended up giving up one run on four hits, and struck out two batters in his seven innings of work. Offensively, Adam Collins led the way for the Gold, with two hits and two RBI’s, and Tyler Huntley also added an RBI. For Team Maroon, Logan Regnier’s triple in the seventh accounted for his teams lone run.
Any extra baseball we get in is a plus, and this was a fun and perfect day for it. Very blessed and lucky to be able to spend this time with family watching a game. I’m not looking forward to winter at all, and April can’t come soon enough! Final: Team Gold 6, Team Maroon 1.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Theunissen Stadium-Mt. Pleasant, MI: Ahh…back in our home state!!! It was a long drive back, and we were dog tired, but not tired enough to miss a baseball game. On our way back home, we stopped in at my dads’ alma mater, Central Michigan, to see them take on their arch-rivals, the Western Michigan Broncos. We’ve only been to a hand-full of college ballparks, but Central’s Theunissen Stadium is the best one we’ve been at, and probably one of the nicer college stadiums in Michigan. This was CMU‘s final regular season game, so plenty of students and family in attendance to cheer on the home team. Before the game, some of the former baseball alumni and coaches were honored, including Coach Theunissen, who the stadium was named after. He threw out the first pitch to his grandson Nate Theunissen, who is now the Chippewas all-time hits leader. The game itself was a good one, with the Chips edging the Broncos 3-2. It was a hot day that drained us a bit, but the game went by pretty quick. I was excited, though, because I was about to be reunited with three most important people in my life… Final: CMU 3, WMU 2.
The Lansing Lugnuts are having a great season. No doubt about it, with a current record of 9-1. Their only blemish, however, came at the bats of the West Michigan Whitecaps on Friday night. The hero of the come-from-behind victory, was Danry Vasquez, who went 3-4 with the winning two run homer in the eighth inning. The 18-year-old Vaszuez is also ranked 18th on the Detroit Tigers prospect list by Baseball America. ‘Caps closer Dan Bennett made it interesting, but held on for the save, while relief pitcher Jade Todd earned the win. Also pitching in offensively, was Steven Moya, who was 2-2 on the night with a home run of his own. Eugenio Suarez also went yard to help West Michigan’s 5-4 victory. The team was unable to bottle that late game lighting, however, as they fell to the Lugnuts on Saturday by the same score of 5-4 in 12 innings. Sunday’s game would be another close one, and it was made a little more exciting with a home town boy on the mound for….Lansing. Jesse Hernandez played for Grand Rapids Community College and Central Michigan University before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Lugnuts slugged their way to another 5-4 win, but Hernandez wasn’t involved in the decision. He did seem to appreciate the home town support, though, despite pitching for the visitors.
“It was amazing, and I can’t put it into words how it felt,” Hernandez told the Grand Rapids Press. “It is nice knowing that you have so many people behind you supporting you and I’m just very appreciative of those people. It was great having them their.”
The Whitecaps took a 3-1 lead, but were unable to hold it. They had the scoring chances, but were unable to come up with the big hits to drive home runs. Seven of these first ten game for the Whitecaps have been decided by just one run. It was enough to frustrate manager Ernie Young a bit.
“I look at it as not taking advantage of all the opportunities we had,” Young also told the Press. “We’re not going to take advantage of all of them, but however, when we have an opportunity to get a pitcher out of a game, we have to find a way to do it. I hope that we will grow from this-losing by one run these three games-and get better. Hopefully we can find a way to pull for each other, to get a big hit or big stolen base, or take and extra base, something.”
The 4-6 Whitecaps now travel to Eastlake, Ohio to take on the Lake County Captains for three games before returning home to face the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Working for the government, we have to pick our vacation almost a year in advance, which can cause problems in making plans, and planning trips. It used to be we had to pick our vacation days by January or December, which wasn’t bad because most Minor League ball clubs had their schedules posted by that time. Now we have to have them submitted by October, and all I can really do is pick a couple of weeks in May, and hope for the best.
This year the Baseball Gods smiled on me a bit, as I was able to put together a nice little trip in my allotted time, featuring Minor League Baseball, NCAA Baseball, and even a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There is a lot of fun and excitement for me when the 2012 schedules come out, and I can start writing games down on the calendar and see how everything will fit into place. It’s not always easy, as I like to pack as much baseball into one week as possible, but it is so much fun, and really gives me something to look forward to over the long winter months. Starting the first of the year, I can start making reservations, ordering tickets, and doing some research on the best sports bars in the areas we’ll be at. Here’s a little rundown of our plans for next May, and if the world is ending in 2012…then at least I die seeing the HOF…
The first leg of our trip takes us to Syracuse, New York, to see the Chiefs host the Rochester Red Wings in International League action (Triple-A). Our first game is a Sunday matinée at 2:00 p.m., then after a long drive it’s early to bed, as the Chiefs host the Red Wings again on Monday afternoon, with a 12:00 start time. I absolutely love doubling back to be at the ballpark in the morning when the grass is still wet with dew, and it brings so much more ambiance to the experience. No time to rest on Monday, though, as we travel to Rochester after the Chiefs game to watch the Scranton/WB Yankees host the Durham Bulls (Int. League/Triple-A). Wait..what? Yes, due to the S/WB Yanks renovating their stadium, they will be playing some home games in Rochester while the Red Wings are on the road, so we pick up an extra game due to that…thanks Yanks! I’ve always wanted to see the Durham Bulls play, too, and will probably be part of their cheering section. Ok, take a second to catch your breath…
The next stop on our trip is in fabled Cooperstown, New York, home to the one and only National Baseball Hall of Fame. This will be my first time here, and probably not be able to grasp how amazing it will be until I’ve actually seen it myself. I’ve been to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, which is breathtaking in itself, but no sport has the history that baseball does. No sport has had an impact on our country’s history the way baseball has, and right now I can’t even comprehend all the things that I will be seeing while there. I’m setting aside a full day and a half to take it all in, and maybe check out Doubleday Field and see if anything is going on there. All I can say is that I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures to share! After the second day in Cooperstown, we travel south to see the Binghamton Mets host the Trenton Thunder in Eastern League action (Double-A). I’ve heard nothing but good things about the ballpark in Binghamton, and really enjoyed all of our Eastern League games last year, so I’m looking forward to this one. Hold on, though, ’cause we’re not done yet…
The next leg on our trip takes us back west, as we stop in Rochester once again, this time seeing the real home team Red Wings host the Louisville Bats. We saw the Bats a few years ago while in Louisville, so it will be nice to see them in action again, also. After a good night rest in Rochester, we’ll keep heading west to Buffalo, New York, for a pair of games. Our first stop will be the University at Buffalo where the Bulls host the Bowling Green State Falcons of the Mid-American Conference (NCAA). This game starts at 1:00 p.m., and gives us a chance to enjoy the campus before heading downtown for the night game. Keeping with the International League, we’ll be watching the Buffalo Bisons host the Gwinnett Braves in our final game in the state of New York. I actually saw the Bisons play a couple of time back in the 90’s when I was out that way working security for the World University Games and that was my first taste of the Minor Leagues. After the Bisons game we head back to Michigan…but why stop there?
After getting back on our Great Lake State, you’d think we’d just want to get home and get some rest, right? Wrong! Plenty of time to rest later, and while we’re heading back, we go right by Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and lucky for us the Central Michigan Chippewas will be hosting their biggest rival, the Western Michigan Broncos at 2:00 p.m. in more MAC action (NCAA). After that game, we’ll hit a cross-roads. The Whitecaps will be playing that night, and we could jot down to Grand Rapids to see them play or call it a day, or trip, or whatever, and head home. In all honesty, we’ll be making that a game-time decision. If my dad’s feeling up to it, I’ll be more than happy to take in one last game. The only problem is, I usually need a vacation to rest up after all of this…but that’s what I call a good problem.
By the time this trip comes around, I’m hoping to join this century and be able to make Twitter updates from my phone or something, and if anyone is in the area for any of these games, let me know and I’ll be happy to have a ticket waiting for you at the gate. I’ll also be bringing back the ‘Logo of the Month’, featuing each of the home teams until the trip, so keep an eye out for those.
Before hitting the books this fall, a group of young baseball players from all around the county banded together to give the Battle Creek Bombers their best season in history, winning the Collegiate World Series and Northwoods League Championship. After a rough 2010 campaign, the Bombers added a new GM, new manager, new pitching coach, new front office staff, and even adopted a new logo for 2011. The formula seemed to pay off….especially new manager Donnie Scott, who known as a ‘players coach’. He brought Major League playing experience and Minor League coaching experience to his post in Battle Creek. The Bombers finished 43-26 for the best season in franchise history, and after going 20-50 in 2010, their success this season is the biggest turn around in Northwoods League history. Their 27 win improvement shatters the record of 19 set by the Kenosha Kroakers back in 1995. The Bombers defeated the Green Bay Bullfrogs to win the Southern Division Pennant, and then beat the Northern Division’s Mankato Moondogs for the title. Scott credits his players, though, who had some great individual efforts this season as well. Bryce Redeker broke the home run record with 11, Jordan Dean set the record for hits, doubles, and at-bats, Danny Rockett knocked in a franchise record 53 RBI’s, to name a few. The Battle Creek roster included players from Central Michigan, Taylor University, Evansville University, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, Texas San-Antonio, and Miami of Ohio. Winning also helps at the gate, and Battle Creek fans helped attendance reach a record high at 1,176 per game in 2001, which is a 49% from 2010. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be part of there numbers, as we didn’t get a chance to get down to BC this summer. We were rained out in our attept at a Bombers game last season, and will try to make it down in 2012. Battle Creek is a great baseball town, and I’m really glad to see the team earning some success and attendance numbers up.
Also helping the Bombers this season was right-handed pitcher Nolan Sandburn from the University of Arnaksas. Sandburg is ranked as the #1 prospect in the Northwoods League by both Baseball America and Perfect Game. A sophomore, he appeared in six games for Battle Creek, striking out 24 and walking nine. He was 0-1 with a 2.33 ERA. Sandburn’s fastball has been clocked at 98 mph. Also appearing on Baseball America’s prospect list at #18 is Bombers pitcher Ben Ballentine, who is a junior at the University of Michigan.
Photos courtesy of the Battle Creek Bombers
It seems as fall is in the air, and summer is just about done. It’s an exciting time at the Major League level, but in the Minors, the seasons are winding down. For the kids, school starts on Tuesday, so we decided to head downstate and get in a couple of days of fun before it all comes to an end….
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: For the second year in a row, we end our baseball season with the Bums. My parents have season tix, so we just met them at the game, and there’s no place the they’d rather be with the grandkids than a baseball game. With their birthdays about ten days apart, we had them annouced over the PA system, which made the kids feel like celebrities. The Beach Bums are making a surge for their fist ever playoff appearance, so lots of good atmosphere for the game. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game, too, which is always a thrill. Final: TC 8, WC 4.
Adventure Island: Summer wouldn’t be summer without hitting the water park. The kids enjoyed the bumper boats, but they told us it was too cold to open the water slide. Hey, were from the U.P….nothing is too cold for us. You’ll also enjoy a pic of ol’ #94 here putting on a hitting display in the batting cages. I’m contimplating making a training video…we’ll see. The park here also has go-carts and adventure golf, both a summer must.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Hampton Pirates: I know this is a baseball blog, but I’ll throw just a little college football in here, too. Going down to watch football still didn’t stop us from visiting the baseball field there just to say hi. Hard to believe it will be seven months before baseball is played there again. The football game was fun (not as much as baseball, but at least they have cheerleaders), and we were able to dodge the rain thankfully. All in all, a good end to our summer fun. Now it’s time to track the MiLB playoffs and plan next season’s baseball trip. Final: CMU 33, Hampton 0.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Central Michigan Chippewas: Our first game slated the Huskies defending their home Ralph McKinzie Field against the Chips. This is the only game where we really cared about the outcome. My dad went to CMU, and the Chips have a local Sault kid on thier roster, so we were rooting for the visitors all the way. Things got a little interensting when a NUI batter ran over the Chips first baseman while he was fielding the ball. Both teams came out of their dugouts, but nothing really came of it. Central’s coach was pretty steamed, though, as the umpires didn’t call for interferance or give the batter a warning of any kind. It was a fun game to watch, as this was the highest scoring game we’d see the whole trip. McKinzie Feld is a simple place to watch a game, as there are just some bleachers behind home plate. There are some places to stand along the fist base wall, though. Final Score: CMU 8, NUI 7. Best: Free admission. Worst: Port-o-potties. I’m lucky I stand.
Photos property of MIB
Heading to Mobile, Alabama to watch the Central Michigan Chippewas take on Troy in the GMAC Bowl, did not really quench my thirst for some baseball. While down there we stopped by Hank Aaron Stadium, home to the Mobile BayBears of the AA Southern League, to check things out.
Southern hospitality had to have started here, as we were invited right into the offices of the BayBears. The gentelman working was nice enough to open the gift shop for us, and the stadium, so we could get some pictures. We also got to see Hank Aaron’s childhood home, which is being reconstructed at the ballpark. Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t open until April, but we could still see the progress from the outside.
My only regret about this trip was not being able to see a game played here. It is a very unique stadium, with the luxury boxes actually at the ground level. This opens things up for the regular seats to have some very good sitelines of the field. I’ve heard some complaints on other sites about this, but really how boring would things be if all ballparks were built the same. Hank Aaron Stadium is truelly an original spectical.
The museum opens on April 14, with Hank himself being in attendance. We were also told that the likes of Ozzie Smith, Bob Feller, and Bud Selig (yeah) will be there. I, unfortunately, will not probably be able to attend, but I would recommend it to anyone in that area.
For you fooball fans, CMU beat Troy 44-41 in double OT in one of the best games I’ve witnessed.
Photos property of MIB